daytona365

Smuggler's Blues Plane *UPDATE*

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daytona365

watched Smuggler's Blues tonight and afterwards started doing a little research on the plane. I did not get far though.

The registration no. on the tail was N441MH. I found the following info on some aviation sites:

Airframe Family: Beech 18 Expeditor D18S
Construction Number:A-0121
Last Civil Registration:N441MH
Latest Owner or Location:Virgin Air Inc, St Thomas, VI
Registration cancelled 15 June 1995

The plane was involved in two incidents in 1966 and 1967, the latter having been landing with the gear up.

http://www.ntsb.gov/_layouts/ntsb.aviation/brief.aspx?ev_id=22212&key=0
http://www.ntsb.gov/_layouts/ntsb.aviation/brief.aspx?ev_id=18968&key=0

The plane actually seems to have had a history in contraband, according to this book. The book also shows a photo of it, although with a different livery.

The last owner, Virgin Air, later 'Air St. Thomas' ceased operations in December 2005. I was not able to find a new registration for this plane, N441MH has meanwhile been assigned to another aircraft. It would be cool to to track down the original plane, as it was part of one of MV's signature episodes. But most likely it's gone, e.g. dumped into the sea as some divers attraction.

 

 

Edited by daytona365
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Matt5

Great info ! Thanks for posting !

:dance2:

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Sonny-Burnett

Very interesting post about this aircraft, and that you were able to actually find some history on this particular plane. :cool::thumbsup: I never thought to look up the tail numbers.

Also ironic that the plane may have been used for the same kind of contraband running seen in the episode of Vice.

I had to chuckle when I read about the range in the book you cited, as it claimed a range of something less than 750 miles, when the distance from Miami to Bogota is double that at about 1500 miles. I wondered in the past where/how they would have refueled on the way there and back, and even if you believe the specs from skytamer.com that the range could be up to 1200 miles.

Seems this variant was introduced around 1945 ( per this source http://www.skytamer.com/Beechcraft_18DS.html) and so it was quite old even when Vice was first running. It would indeed be cool to see whether this plane even still exists.

 

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daytona365

I was able to contact Wild Bill Callahan, who owned the plane and even flew the takeoff and flight scenes in ‘Smuggler’s Blues’. He is also the author of the book mentioned in my earlier post. A very nice man who kindly responded to me and generously shared a little anecdote of his time on the set, which he has rarely told anyone before: 

“Paul Michael Glaser asked me where to position the camera for the takeoff, he wanted the takeoff point to be just before the camera position. I put him too close! When I made the turn at the runway end to position myself for takeoff, I looked ahead and said; "Oh Shit!" I could tell immediately that I did not give myself enough runway to elevate the plane before the camera position as requested! You can see me try to pull it off (tail goes down) just before the camera, the camera goes slightly to the up position thinking I'm going up. I don't go up but continue down another couple hundred feet or so before she felt like flying.

They wanted to do a re-take but Glaser said no....probably since Don Johnson & Philip Michael Thomas had screwed up themselves several times. Glaser was the honcho & I was pissed I screwed up! They had a one million dollar budget per episode & I guess we were closing in on that considering the size of the crew, transportation from the U.S. (It was shot in San Juan, Puerto Rico), hotel, food, drink etc.

Don Johnson had his 35th birthday that day. My wife & I got to share his birthday cake. She was enamored with him as was the entire female U.S. population at the time!

The entire crew was very nice to me & my wife, with the exception of Philip Michael Thomas. He refused to even look in my direction. Don Johnson & Paul Glaser readily agreed to a photo shot with my wife & a brief video!”

Edited by daytona365
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airtommy
6 hours ago, daytona365 said:

“Paul Michael Glaser asked me where to position the camera for the takeoff, he wanted the takeoff point to be just before the camera position. I put him too close! When I made the turn at the runway end to position myself for takeoff, I looked ahead and said; "Oh Shit!" I could tell immediately that I did not give myself enough runway to elevate the plane before the camera position as requested! You can see me try to pull it off (tail goes down) just before the camera, the camera goes slightly to the up position thinking I'm going up. I don't go up but continue down another couple hundred feet or so before she felt like flying.

I just looked at both takeoff scenes.  He is talking about the scene in Miami around 15:20.  You can indeed see the tail go down as the camera pans up.

Awesome thread, daytona365!!!    :thumbsup:

 

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Matt5

Really great information:done::dance2:

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damrod

Thanks for the tidbits.  Nice to know.

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daytona365

finally got my copy of Wild Bill's book today...can't wait to start reading the tales of the plane's actual involvement in contraband (non-drugs!) across the Texas-Mexican border during the mid-eighties.

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Matt5

Enjoy ! I look forward to reading that too !!:D

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